House of Commons Hansard #126 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Excise Tax Act
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Exactly. His Reform friends are influencing that deliberation.

I am pleased the member for Calgary Centre acknowledged that he got some material from someone who has to be respected. Unfortunately we often hear a lot of rhetoric from the other opposition party. We wonder if it would be attributed to the Fraser Institute or to Newt Gingrich or if they would make the same kind of attribution that the hon. member so rightly did.

I want to discuss tax included pricing. The opposition parties are creating a lot of confusion and debate around this point about which I will provide some clarification. At the time the GST was first promulgated under the Conservative government, I thought if they were going to bring it in they should have it out front and centre so that people could see it. That was a reasonably honourable thing to do.

However, if people opposite were frank with themselves they would acknowledge what we are now hearing from Canadians, myself included on this point. When Canadians go to the cash register they are continually surprised when tax is added on to their items. A $100 item becomes $115 dollars. Canadians are fed up with that.

Contrary to what the member opposite says, the HST will not be hidden. It will be on the receipt. If you travel to Europe or other places you will see the taxes are included on the bill and also on the sticker price. We are moving to what many other countries have moved to, and the tax will be there and visible for all eyes to see.

In Atlantic Canada we are reducing the GST component of the HST so why would we want to hide it? Why would we want to hide a tax we are reducing? It makes no sense. It argues the point quite well that we are not really trying to hide a tax; we are trying to respond to what Canadians are asking for from sea to sea.

I would like to comment briefly on the origins of the HST. When the GST was brought in, the manufacturers' sales tax was eliminated. Many Canadians, myself included, did not factor that in very heavily at the time. Independent surveys showed that the manufacturers' sales tax on white goods and big appliances in most cases was passed on to the consumer. We have lost the benefits of the manufacturers' sales tax.

When we campaigned in 1993 we said that we would do everything we could to replace the GST because it was not a popular tax. We looked at a whole range of options. The red book said that we would harmonize the GST and make it simpler and more equitable. The HST will do that.

An aspect which is sometimes forgotten is the notion of the embedded PST. That is a term which deserves an explanation. When Atlantic Canada moves to the HST, the whole tax collection and remittance system will become a value added type tax.

Those Canadians who have small businesses, medium sized businesses or who work in the accounting offices of big companies know how the GST works. They take all the GST they have paid on the goods they have purchased, deduct that from the GST they have charged to customers and remit the net. Essentially it is a value added tax.

When the tax is harmonized in Atlantic Canada, the provincial sales tax which is currently in the cost of goods that businesses buy will be relieved. Therefore, the cost of the goods which are produced by those companies will be reduced. The result will be that the companies in those provinces will be more competitive.

Some of the Atlantic premiers, such as Frank McKenna of New Brunswick, are very aggressive when it comes to developing and attracting business. They know that the harmonized sales tax will position their provinces very well. In fact, Quebec has moved along a similar avenue.

In Ontario the Harris government is doing nothing because it likes to play politics. We have run into that on a whole range of issues, such as CPP reform, but that is an issue for another day.

If we faced reality in Ontario, the taxes could be harmonized. Instead of a 15 per cent tax there would be a 14 per cent tax. Perhaps in the future it could be reduced even more. In doing so, businesses would be more competitive. Things would be simpler for businesses. Right now they fill in the GST forms and then they fill in the PST forms. It is very complicated. People spend their time filling in forms when they should be focusing on expanding markets or developing new opportunities. When the tax is harmonized there will be one form to complete and one cheque to remit. With the new tax commission things will be simplified even further.

Some Canadians might say: "What does that do for me?" If businesses in Ontario and the other provinces are more competitive, it is good for all of us. Their businesses will grow and they will be able to hire more people. They will be able to expand their markets. Some of those benefits will flow to consumers. We have independent research which shows that happened after the GST was implemented a number of years ago.

If we had the perfect solution we would eliminate all taxes. This debate has gone on and on and we are left with looking at what are the practical alternatives. The HST is a practical alternative. In addition, it will create some real benefits for people in Atlantic Canada. If other provinces would follow suit they would realize the same benefits.

We all know that if the tax is harmonized in Ontario there will be some difficulty because consumers will now have to pay this harmonized tax on services at a higher rate than they paid before. That is the reality.

What do we do? Do we go dig a hole and lose ourselves in some of those facts? Or do we say that it will to be better for industry. Businesses will be more competitive. They will be able to compete better with Atlantic Canada and Quebec in world markets.

Exports are what it is all about. Growth in the economy has come through exports. If businesses are not competitive, even within our own provinces, then we are going to have some difficulties. I think Ontario should take the lead of Atlantic Canada and Quebec and harmonize the tax.

The member for Calgary Centre talked about the fact that people who do not comply with this law would be sent to jail, debtor's prison and all this sort of rhetoric. I do not think the hon. member was around for the debate subsequent to that announcement. There was some legitimate confusion among Canadians about people being thrown in jail and the way in which people would be charged under summary convictions or under various areas of the Criminal Code. The fact is that people will not be thrown in jail.

I find it ironic that Reform Party members, who stand up and talk about law and order and crime and punishment and who go on and on about the underground economy, the minute the government stands up and says: "Look, if you are start fiddling around with your HST, we are not going to throw you in jail but, yes, we are going to take it very seriously. We are going to treat that as a pretty serious-

Excise Tax Act
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

As it is almost 2 p.m., we will proceed to statements by members.

James Buchanan
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House of a program called "Encounters with Canada". The program was developed by the Council for Canadian Unity, a non-profit organization, to give young Canadians the opportunity to meet and get to know one another, enhance their knowledge of Canada and to gain a greater awareness of our country.

Each year Encounters with Canada welcomes over 3,000 Canadian high school students to Ottawa where a one-week program of studies built around a central theme of Canadian institutions and a sub-theme of their choice.

This week I have the pleasure of welcoming one of my young constituents to Ottawa to participate in the program. James Buchanan, or Jimmy as his friends like to call him, attends Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate in my riding of Scarborough Centre. Jimmy was picked by his school for his outstanding achievement in both academics and extra-curricular activities.

I want to congratulate Mr. Buchanan on his accomplishments and encourage him to take full advantage of the program being offered to him this week. Congratulations, Jimmy.

Government Policies
Statements By Members

February 10th, 1997 / 1:55 p.m.

Reform

Mike Scott Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, like most other MPs, I spent Christmas break travelling around my riding of Skeena listening to the concerns of my constituents.

The majority of those concerns, as members may guess, deal with their unjust treatment at the hands of this Liberal government.

News of the day issues like silencing of the Somalia inquiry, the mishandling of the Airbus affair, the blood scandal, the broken GST promise and the bungling of the Pearson airport deal are all at the top of their minds.

There are also a litany of concerns specific to my constituents. Coast guard cutbacks, de-staffed light stations and DFO mismanaged fisheries top the list in Prince Rupert. People living in Terrace, Kitimat, Stewart and the Bulkley Valley seem incensed with the government's cramming gun control, native land claims and increasingly punitive taxes down their throats.

However, the most frequently asked question in Skeena is: "When is the Prime Minister going to call an election?" They and Canadians right across the country want to start counting the days until they can hold this government accountable for its broken promises.

Peacekeeping
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Len Hopkins Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to congratulate the members of the Canadian forces currently serving in Haiti who just this past weekend received a UN medal recognizing their contribution to the United Nations support mission in that country.

The UN recognizes and honours personnel of member states who participate in UN missions in support of its wider goal of maintaining international peace and security. Canada has been a stalwart support of the UN participating in nearly every UN peacekeeping mission.

Canada has played a significant role in the international community's efforts to build peace in Haiti. The Canadian forces have done much to restore hope for those people.

Canada currently has 750 Canadian forces personnel deployed in Haiti, including members from Canadian Forces Base Val Cartier and personnel drawn from 427 Tactical Helicopter Squadron from my own home community of Petawawa.

We congratulate them and we are proud of them. As Canadians we wish them well.

Special Olympics World Winter Games
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Wellington—Grey—Dufferin—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past week Collingwood in my riding of Wellington-Grey-Dufferin-Simcoe co-hosted the sixth Special Olympics World Winter Games.

I was pleased to present medals to athletes and to witness Collingwood events, including alpine skiing at Blue Mountain and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Duntroon.

The mission of the special Olympics is to provide year round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic type sports for children and adults with mental disabilities. Special Olympics gives these athletes continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, to experience courage and joy and to participate in sharing gifts, skills and friendship with other athletes from around the world.

Everyone involved with the 1997 Special Olympics World Winter Games should be proud of their success and inspired by the courage and talent of the athletes. A great deal can be learned from the special Olympics oath: "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt".

Special Olympics World Winter Games
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Simmons Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, they are all winners, the more than 2,000 athletes from 76 countries who took part in the Special Olympics World Winter Games last week.

Three cheers for Team Canada and especially for those athletes who represented the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. All three Newfoundlanders went home with medals from this major multi-sport event.

For nordic skier Janet Hanham of Fortune, a gold and a bronze medal; for snowshoer Louise Wall of Codroy Valley, a silver medal; for Gordon Reddy of St. John's, two bronze medals in nordic skiing. This is another fantastic accomplishment for our athletes, for our province and for the country.

Congratulations to all, the Olympians, their coaches, their families and all the volunteers who made dreams come true last week.

Saint-Côme Ice Sculpture Festival
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the weekend, the fifth ice sculpture festival in Saint-Côme drew to a close.

This year again, the village of Saint-Côme was literally turned into an ice sculpture museum, to the delight of tens of thousands of visitors who came from all over Quebec and beyond to admire the works of local artists.

This year again, the festival was a success, thanks to the solidarity, co-operation and team work of the organizers, the chamber of commerce, many volunteers and the sculptors themselves.

After two weeks of outdoor events and games, I want to congratulate all those who contributed to the immense success of this young but promising festival.

As honourary president of the fifth festival, I would like to thank the people of Saint-Côme for their warm reception, a tradition in this region.

Yes, Gilles Vigneault was right: "Mon pays, ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver". In Saint-Côme, we are proud of that, and we celebrate that pride.

Special Olympics World Winter Games
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past Saturday marked the end of an extremely successful and enjoyable week for the athletes taking part in the Special Olympics as well as those who attended the various events.

Special Olypians from around the world came to Collingwood and Toronto to compete for medals in sports such as alpine skiing, speed skating, figure skating and floor hockey.

As with any event of this size, the Special Olympics required an enormous organizational effort and an army of volunteers. The residents of both cities should be commended for their efforts on behalf of the athletes, their coaches and their families.

Participants from around the globe return home this week with a renewed sense of accomplishment both in view of their personal successes and because of the efforts of the hundreds of volunteers and organizers who made the event possible.

National Forum On Health
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the National Forum on Health cost taxpayers $12 million and made unacceptable recommendations that would open the door to even more federal interference in an area of provincial jurisdiction by reducing the provinces to the rank of mere trustees.

However, the provincial governments did not wait for the federal government before taking action. In Quebec, as was pointed out by a member of the forum, Dr. Marc Renaud, we already have a head start in areas like home health care, family policies and drug plans.

The government poses as a champion of the existing health care system while at the same time taking billions of dollars out of health care budgets. Once again, this government is not practising what it preaches. The Bloc will be glad to remind Quebecers of this in the next election.

Voyageur Festival
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to invite all my colleagues to the attend the Voyageur Festival this week in St. Boniface.

This festival, which takes pride in being known as the largest winterfest in western Canada, celebrates the history, traditions and culture of the French and Metis people.

This is a time when Manitobans, other Canadians and people from all over the world come and visit Voyageur Park, Fort Gibraltar and the winter promenades to honour the contribution of the founding nations of Manitoba.

For two weeks, St. Boniface will host Franco-Manitoban, Quebec, Acadian and Cajun performers who will act, sing and dance, all in French.

Mr. Speaker, my colleagues, once again, I invite you to join us in celebrating the tenacity of the Metis and French speaking communities of western Canada. Have a great time.

Computing Devices Canada
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Beryl Gaffney Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, Nepean has once again distinguished itself as a home to leading edge technology. On Friday, Computing Devices Canada was awarded a high profile defence contract to develop integrated protective clothing and equipment for soldiers.

A trailblazer in the Nepean high tech community, CDC has nearly 50 years of experience as a defence supplier to over 20 nations. CDC will lead an industrial team of companies from across Canada. Their task is the design, development, integration and manufacture of enough prototypes for an infantry platoon to extensively test the clothing and equipment in the field.

The project will draw from emerging technologies and systems integration such as a satellite navigation system and a wearable computer with a helmet mounted display.

I applaud CDC and other members of the industrial team. This contract enhances CDC's already strong international reputation. It is because of companies like CDC that Nepean and Canada are so well respected in the high tech sector.

Liberal Party Of Canada
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Denis Coderre was officially nominated as the Liberal candidate for the riding of Bourassa in the next federal election.

With the vast majority of the social and cultural associations in his riding behind him, the new Liberal candidate for Bourassa can also count on the formal support of the three provincial Liberal members from his riding.

Joining him on the stage, Yvon Charbonneau, Jean-Claude Gobé and Marcel Parent made a strong plea for unity within Liberal ranks.

Mr. Charbonneau said that the provincial Liberals were fighting the same battle as the federal Liberals to get rid of the Bloc Quebecois.

Our pre-election campaign is under way in Quebec, and we will wage a relentless battle against those who have nothing better to propose than the separation of Quebec and the breakup of Canada.

Tribute To Georges Groulx
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, the Quebec theatre industry mourns the loss of Georges Groulx, who died at the age of 74.

Georges Groulx can be described as a great creator, an extraordinary actor and stage director, as well as an outstanding educator. During his career, this theatre personality deeply touched those who worked with him: Gilles Pelletier, for one, spoke about the humility and joviality of the man he considers the pillar of the Nouvelle Compagnie théâtrale; as for Françoise Faucher, she remembers him as an exceptional artist who was able to make fun of his own fears.

Georges Groulx worked with a number of seasoned actors in the Compagnons de Saint-Laurent company and helped train several Quebec actors at the Théâtre du Nouveau-Monde and the Conservatoire d'art dramatique. He was also a stage director at the Rideau Vert and a Radio-Canada producer.

The Bloc Quebecois joins the artistic community in mourning this great theatre personality, whose generosity was only matched by his talent.

National Citizenship Week
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, today is the beginning of National Citizenship Week and it is a very special anniversary.

Prior to 1947 anyone who was born in Canada was not a Canadian citizen but rather a British subject resident in Canada. It is ironic that Canada has existed as a nation for almost 130 years, yet Canadians as a people have existed for only 50 of those 130 years.

While Canadian citizenship is something to be proud of, it is often difficult to celebrate. Just last year while filling out my census form I had the option of marking my ethnic background as Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Filipino. I could not say I was Canadian unless I marked "other".

Canadian citizenship should be something we can be proud of regardless of race, creed, colour, ethnicity or when our ancestors came to this land. Maybe we will even be able to indicate this pride during the census.